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Avatar: The Way of Water is the sequel to the 2009 film Avatar, and the second installment in the Avatar series of five films. It was released on December 16, 2022 and directed by James Cameron, produced by Lightstorm Entertainment, and distributed by 20th Century Studios.

The Way of Water is set 15 years after the events of the first film. Due to a one year time skip during the story, most of the film's events are set in 2170. Similar to the first film, the story is set across months with only the more important scenes being shown.[4]

The Way of Water follows the journey of Jake Sully and Neytiri's newfound family of children. Despite their best efforts to keep their family safe, a familiar threat resurfaces because Earth is dying, and forces the family to become refugees and flee to the land of the Metkayina clan in the Pandoran oceans. Here, Lo'ak (Jake and Neytiri's younger son) befriends an exiled sea animal named Payakan. However, Lo'ak discovers Payakan is in danger from a group of hunters who view him as a commodity to be exploited. Lo'ak must face the struggles that come with saving Payakan and his whale-like species, the tulkun, from slaughter.

The film's plot is intended to be a fully-encapsulated standalone narrative, as will the other sequels, but will also be part of a meta-narrative that extends across Avatar: The Way of Water, Avatar 3, 4 and 5.[5]

Plot[]

The Return of the RDA[]

Jake playing with his children

Jake playing with his children.

Jake Sully has been living a peaceful life as Chief of the Omatikaya clan and raising a family with his lover Neytiri, which includes his sons Neteyam and Lo'ak and his daughter Tuktirey, his adopted daughter Kiri (born from Grace Augustine's comatose avatar), and a human boy Miles "Spider" Socorro, the son of Miles Quaritch, born on Pandora but was unable to be transported to Earth in cryostasis due to being an infant. While Jake is able to accept Spider as an adopted son, Neytiri is distrustful of him given his human origins. However, all the children mingle and socialize well with each other including Spider, whom Kiri is affectionate with even though he is a human. Spider does not embrace his human heritage and feels more inclined to Na'vi culture and traditions.

Firestorm

Animals burning to death in the firestorm

They lead a happy life until one day, in 2168, they notice a new star in the night sky. To their horror, they realizes it signals the arrival of a fleet of RDA interstellar ships (ISVs). Humans have returned to Pandora to further colonize in the wake of the fall of Hell's Gate, due to Earth's energy crisis and impending environmental collapse. The RDA ships drop giant structures via space elevator. These 30-story tall cargo vehicles are each full of thousands of RDA workers, SecOps forces and construction robots. They use giant plasma engines to slow their descent to the ground, burning the forest and at least 187[6] of its animals in a 20km radius. Witnessing the devastation from afar, the Omatikaya and their allies retreat from the forest to the relative safety of the hidden High Camp community in the Hallelujah Mountains.

The Hunt for Jake Sully[]

Avatar The Way of Water 09

Ardmore and the Recoms in Bridgehead.

The RDA uses fabrication plants and construction robots to build a new main operating base known as Bridgehead City, which over the next year, grows to be much larger than Hell's Gate was. New ships arrive regularly to deliver more troops and equipment; among the new arrivals to Pandora is Miles Quaritch who, along with eleven of his former troops, has been cloned into a Na'vi body as a Recombinant or "Recom" which can bypass Eywa's "immune response" of sending the wildlife to kill them. Quaritch maintains his donor's memories up with Parker Selfridge, his boss, until shortly before he departed for the Assault on the Tree of Souls. As a result, he is unable to remember his demise, but is able to recall his vengeful mission to eliminate Jake. His progress on Pandora is overseen by RDA General Frances Ardmore, who introduces him to the RDA's new skel-suits: Na'vi-sized exoskeletal frames that human grunts wear to even the odds against the natives.

To prevent the RDA from exploiting Pandora again, Jake leads an ongoing strategic guerrilla operation aimed at weakening RDA supply lines. In one of these missions, a raid on a maglev train, Jake's sons are assigned to act as spotters. Lo'ak, who is eager to prove himself, disobeys Jake's orders and tries to assist in the battle. However, when more RDA forces arrive in a Kestrel gunship, Lo'ak is overwhelmed and Neteyam is wounded trying to protect him. Jake rescues and disciplines both his sons, warning them to not endanger their own safety for his sake by being reckless.

Kiri with Grace

Kiri visiting her mother's avatar.

Later, Lo’ak, Kiri and Spider visit an ex-RDA lab module that has been relocated to their mountain community, where Max Patel and Norm Spellman still provide medical assistance to the locals. It is revealed Grace's avatar remained alive after her human body died, and was put back into her suspension tank. Kiri greets Grace’s avatar warmly as "mom". Spider laments who his father was, but Kiri and Lo'ak reassure him.

That night, while tending to his own wounds, Neytiri calmly reminds Jake to be not too hard on his sons, to which Jake expresses his fear of losing them and his need to be strict on them. Meanwhile, the attack on the RDA supply lines does not sit well with Ardmore who assigns Quaritch's Recom squad on a search mission to kill Jake.

Avatar The Way of Water 02

Recom Quaritch searching for Jake.

During a playful venture in the forest with Jake's children Lo'ak, Tuk and Kiri, Spider recognises that they are near the old Link Shack where their father fought his father, and Lo'ak decides to explore it, knowing it is against Jake's rules. Unbeknownst to them, Quaritch and his 1st Recom squad are reconnoitering the same site. Quaritch grimly discovered his decomposed remains, pierced with Neytiri's distinctive arrows, and crushes his own skull. An observant Lo'ak spots the Recoms, and quickly radios his father to inform him of their location. However, a skirmish occurs, and the Recoms easily capture Jake's children. They identify the children as Jake's due to Lo'ak and Kiri having recessive human traits such as five fingers, and upon learning Spider's name, Quaritch recognises the boy as his former son.

Jake, Neytiri and Neteyam rush to the link shack, which was located at Site 26 15 years earlier. Upon arrival, Jake tells Neteyam to hang back. The parents then make animal calls to alert the captured children to their impending rescue. As Neytiri provides overwatch, Jake stealthily kills recom Warren. When Neytiri sees Recom Fike threatening Kiri, she is forced to kill him and Recom Walker with arrows, alerting Quaritch to her presence and covering the children's escape. When the other Recoms attempt to flank Neytiri, Jake ambushes and kills recom Brown, and Neteyam disobeys Jake and saves his father's life by killing recom Zhang. Jake and Neteyam regroup with Neytiri and his other children, but Spider trips and falls to the forest floor, where he is abducted by Quaritch. The recoms then retreat to Ardmore's command ship for extraction.

Spider Quaritch

Recom Quaritch introduces himself to Spider.

Aboard the command ship, RDA scientists unsuccessfully attempt to coerce information about Jake from Spider via mental torture. Changing tack, Quaritch recognises Spider as his donor's son, and asks for his aid in understanding the Na'vi and their culture in exchange for avoiding further torture. Although uncooperative, and unaware of Quaritch's assassination mission, Spider does grudgingly agree to assist Quaritch. With Spider's goading, Quaritch and his remaining Recom squad are able to successfully bond with ikran mounts.

Jake leaving the Omatikaya

The family leaves to protect the children from getting involved with the war.

Knowing the danger Spider's knowledge poses to their safety, and also to avoid further persecution of the Omatikaya clan, Jake convinces a reluctant Neytiri and his children to banish themselves and retreat to the eastern seaboard archipelago and the village of Awa'atlu, a coral reef island and home to the Metkayina clan, whose lifestyle is adapted to an aquatic habitat. Jake passes on his chief mantle to his successor, Tarsem, and leaves with his family on ikran to fly to Mekayina.

Living at Awa'atlu[]

Ronal and Tonowari Unwatermarked

Ronal and Tonowari, the Tsahik and Olo'eyktan of the Metkayina

They are greeted by the clan chief Tonowari and his partner, the tsahik Ronal, who is doubtful of them initially as she blames fall of Hell's Gate for the renewed human expansion. However, Jake stresses their dire situation, and according to custom Tonowari agrees for the Sully family to stay and receive shelter. Although at first Tonowari's and Ronal's son Aonung and his friend Rotxo deride the Sully children for their thin arms and small tails, and particularly Lo'ak and Kiri for their human genetic traits, the family quickly learn the ways of the reef people.

Kiri is fascinated with the aquatic life of Awa'atlu and develops a spiritual bond with the sea and its creatures, while Lo'ak befriends Tsireya, the daughter of Tonowari and Ronal and sister of Aonung. Jake and Neytiri themselves try to adapt and learn the skills of the Metkayina, with Jake eventually managing to bond with a tsurak, a mount resembling a large flying-fish that can dive underwater or flit just above the surface.

Avatar The Way of Water Press Kit Stills 12

Lo'ak befriending the tulkun Payakan

While adapting to their new environment, Lo'ak gets into a fight with Aonung and his friends when they make crude comments about his and Kiri's mixed human lineage. Jake admonishes his son for his behavior. At Jake's insistence, Lo'ak returns to apologize to Aonung and his friends. However, they entice him to a trip to the Three Brothers island chain, which is the hunting territory of a dangerous sea predator called an akula, and then leave him stranded as a revenge. The akula attacks Lo'ak, and he nearly drowns, but is saved at the last moment by a tulkun, an intelligent and pacifistic cetacean species whom the Metkayina consider their spiritual family. A grateful Lo'ak removes a human-made steel tag from one of the tulkun's fins, and notices that he is missing his fin on the other side. He spends time with the tulkun and learns that he is able to communicate with it; eventually they become friends.

Back at Awa'atlu, Jake asks Kiri why she seems upset. She confides that she feels different; that she can sense a connection to Eywa, and can sense her heartbeat, which she describes as "mighty". Jake reassures her that there is nothing wrong with her. When Lo'ak returns to the village that night, Tonowari asks Aonung to apologize to Lo'ak for taking him beyond the reef. However, Lo'ak decides to take the blame for breaking the rules, which wins Aonung's friendship and respect.

Kiri connecting underwater2

Kiri connecting to the Spirit Tree

Together, the group of children learn and explore Awa'atlu's aquatic shores, its beautiful ecosystem and the Na'vi sign language. Lo'ak tells Tsireya and the others about the tulkun who saved him, only to be warned that he is Payakan, a tulkun who was cast out for murder, which Lo'ak refuses to believe. On a trip to the Metkayina's Cove of the Ancestors, the children are introduced to the Spirit Tree, their equivalent of the Tree of Souls. Kiri sees a vision of her mother, but then suffers a sudden violent seizure. She is eventually healed by Ronal, but as Jake had called Norm and Max for help, Quaritch was able to track their Samson's coordinates to the larger archipelago surrounding where the reef people live.

Metkayinas as hostages

Quaritch orders the burning of the Ta'unui clan village

Bringing Spider with him once more, Quaritch commandeers a SeaDragon whaling carrier vessel from RDA Cet-Ops Captain Mick Scoresby. The SeaDragon is capable of depoying a small fleet of gunboats, subs and VTOLs and is hunting tulkuns to harvest amrita, a brain enzyme used to create anti-aging remedies. Quaritch begins to violently question the local clans about Jake's location, specifically the Ta'unui clan, using Spider as a translator who pleads with him not to kill the Tsahìk. The clan claims they have no knowledge of Jake's location, prompting Quaritch to order the burning of the village instead. After, Quaritch orders the whaling crew to wantonly hunt and kill tulkuns in order to draw Jake out. Spider is disgusted with the RDA's brutality and his father's complicity.

Mick Scoresby Amrita

Scoresby extracting Ro'a's amrita

Scoresby's fleet hunts the tulkun pod that is tied to the Metkayina, piercing their fins with inflatable balloons to keep them on the surface, and shooting their less-armored underbellies with explosive harpoons to kill them. Scoresby personally catches and kills Ronal's "soul-sister" Ro'a, after which the RDA marine biologist Dr. Ian Garvin harvests her corpse for a tiny amount of valuable amrita. The whalers also ruthlessly kill Ro'a's calf.

Lo'ak, determined to find the reason why Payakan became an outcast, returns to the Three Brothers and mentally links with Payakan via his queue. He learns that the tulkun was driven out by his pod because he went against the pacifist ways of his species and attacked the RDA whalers who had killed his mother. Lo'ak feels great pity and empathy for Payakan after this revelation, as the rebellious Lo'ak also feels like an outcast among his family, and that he lives in Neteyam's shadow.

The Way of Water Tsireya Still

Tsireya listening to Lo'ak's concerns.

Lo'ak returns to the village where Ronal chastises Tsireya for allowing Lo'ak to bond with the outcast. Tonowari also scolds Lo'ak, saying he should know better. Lo'ak instead replies that Payakan saved his life and that he does not truly know him. Tonowari demands everyone sit down and explains the Tulkun Way and why Payakan is outcasted. Lo'ak instead speaks out against this, saying Tonowari is wrong. An upset Jake grabs Lo'ak and takes him away. Later, Tsireya tells Lo'ak how proud she is of him for bonding with a tulkun. Lo'ak defends Payakan to her, though she replies that by the Tulkun Way, Payakan bears the deaths. Tsireya insists they try to convince Tonowari, but Lo'ak refuses, saying neither of their fathers understand them. Tsireya tells Lo'ak "I see you" and insists he is part of their clan.

When the Metkayina learn of the tulkun slaughters, they become furious and prepare to wage war with the RDA. Tonowari, who is displeased with the growing situation with Quaritch, is advised by Jake to strategize their defenses and to call him if any tulkuns are found with tracking tags, as this is a death sentence. Learning of the situation, Lo'ak takes off on an ilu to warn Payakan, followed by his siblings and the Metkayina kids.

Skirmish at the Three Brothers[]

The group finds Payakan at the Three Brothers, being chased by the SeaDragon and Scoresby's jetboat fleet, as he has already been tagged again. Lo'ak warns his father of the situation via radio, and the kids manage to free Payakan from the tracking device, but Quaritch spots them and Scoresby's jetboats enter the water in pursuit. As Neteyam attempts to use the tracking device to lure the fleet away, the other kids begin hiding below the surface. Multiple Mako subs and crabsuit operators deploy into the sea, using their weaponry to disable the kids' ilu mounts. Lo'ak, Tsireya and Tuk are eventually captured by a Mako sub using a net, which is lifted out of the sea by Quaritch's ikran and brought aboard the RDA carrier. The other kids continue to be pursued.

Tulkun jumps over a ship

Seeing Lo'ak handcuffed, Payakan attacks the SeaDragon.

Jake, Neytiri and the Metkayina clan arrive at the Three Brothers on their tsuraks to confront the RDA fleet, seeing the kids cuffed to the deck railing. Before the battle, Quaritch contacts Jake by radio and gives him an ultimatum to surrender or risk having his children killed. Ronal admonishes Jake for being the reason that the battle has reached the Metkayina. Realizing that the battle was always between himself and Quaritch, Jake decides to surrender to avoid further bloodshed on Pandora. However, seeing his friend Lo'ak imperiled, Payakan rushes towards the SeaDragon. He leaps out of the water, slamming down on its foredeck and killing Recom Ja and some of the RDA crew. From his nearby Matador gunboat, the enraged Scoresby fires an explosive harpoon at Payakan, who uses his hardened skull to deflect the shot which instead damages the SeaDragon.

Jake and the Metkayina clan choose this moment to attack the RDA fleet, using spears and arrows to pick apart the crews of the five Picador jetboats from the backs of tsuraks. Jake manages to destroy two of the boats, exploding one and causing the other to violently run aground. Neytiri swoops down on the back of her ikran, killing Recom Lopez as well as shooting down Seawasps, one of which crash-lands onto the SeaDragon's top deck.

Kiri with Aonung and Rotxo underwater

Kiri uses Eywa to kill a pursuer.

Below the surface, a Mako sub continues to pursue Kiri, Aonung and Rotxo. Kiri calls on her bond with Eywa to control undersea flora and fauna, using it to disable the sub and smother the evacuating operators. Above, Payakan swipes a passing jetboat with his tail, sending it tumbling into one of the SeaDragon's tilt-rotors and critically damaging the larger vessel; in the chaos Spider, who is still hostile to his RDA captors, sabotages the carrier's helm controls and causes it to accelerate uncontrolled towards nearby reef. It barrels over them, landing hard, immobilized and immediately beginning to sink.

As Jake's tsurak manages to knock Quaritch off his banshee into the sea, Scoresby tries to snare Payakan with a harpoon cable, but the highly intelligent tulkun manages to manipulate the cable and wrap around the Matador, dragging its belly over nearby rocks and pinning Scoresby to his gunner's platform by his arm. Dr. Garvin hits the deck, as the immense pressure Payakan puts on the gunboat eventually causes the cable to tear the gunner's platform off the boat, severing Scoreby's arm (much as the whalers had severed Payakan's fin) and hurling him screaming into the sea.

Neteyam reappears, leaping onto the SeaDragon from his ilu to free Lo'ak, Tuk and Tsireya. The girls jump into the sea and begin to swim away. However, Lo'ak takes a rifle from Brown's body, refusing to leave without saving Spider. Kiri, Aonung and Rotxo surface nearby, only for Recom Wainfleet to swoop in on his banshee and snatch Kiri out of the sea, carrying her back onto the deck of the SeaDragon. Seeing this, Tuk and Tsireya turn back and also climb back on board the foundering vessel. They find Kiri cuffed to the railing of the moon pool, but before they can free her, Quaritch and Wainfleet reappear. Quaritch knocks Tsireya into the moon pool, where she swims away to safety, and Wainfleet cuffs Tuk to the railing next to Kiri.

Neytiri holding Neteyam

Neytiri embracing Neteyam's dead body.

Soon after, Lo'ak and Neteyam find Spider and incapacitate his guards; Lo'ak is forced to shoot and kill an RDA soldier during the rescue, which leaves him shaken. Neteyam takes the gun from Lo'ak and hurries him and Spider to dive into the sea but is mortally shot by Wainfleet as he covers their escape. On nearby rocks, Jake and Neytiri try to save Neteyam's life, but as Pandora enters its daily eclipse and the sky darkens, Neteyam succumbs to his wound in their arms, leaving the Sully family in grief.

The Way of Water Fire Still

Jake encouraging Neytiri they can save Kiri and Tuk

Jake decides to face Quaritch once and for all, when the latter radios to reveal that he has recaptured Tuk and Kiri. Jake helps motivate Neytiri to rescue their daughters and tells her she must have a strong heart. Jake and Neytiri stealthily climb to the top deck of the SeaDragon, with Spider leading them due to his knowledge of the vessel. Jake uses a grenade to detonate the crashed Seawasp, killing many of the remaining RDA troops and evacuees. In the chaos, Jake and Neytiri attack the survivors on the top deck, killing Recoms Prager and Zdinarsik before working their way down to the moon pool where Tuk and Kiri are held.

Knifefight

Jake struggling against Quaritch's knife.

Wainfleet commands Recom Mansk and the remaining soldiers on the lower deck, but Jake beats both recombinants unconscious and knocks Wainfleet into the sea. Spider watches from cover as Neytiri slaughters the last human troops in a berserker rage, breaking her bow before killing the last unarmed, cowering soldier. Jake cuts off Kiri and Tuk's cuffs before engaging Quaritch in a fistfight that ends with the Recom snatching Kiri at knifepoint. However, Neytiri intercedes, similarly holding Spider at knifepoint. At first, Quaritch claims his son is inconsequential, but he ultimately releases Kiri when Neytiri cuts Spider's chest. Quaritch and Jake resume fighting, and Jake gets the upper hand.

Kiri Spider survive

Kiri and Spider hold hands as the SeaDragon sinks.

Due to the many explosions and fires, the SeaDragon quickly begins to sink with Spider, Quaritch and the Sully family trapped inside. Jake strangles Quaritch into unconsciousness and is almost drowned himself. However, he is rescued by Lo'ak and Payakan. Kiri uses her bond with Eywa to summon a gill mantle and bioluminescent squids that help her save Neytiri and Tuk, and which then guide the entire family to the surface. Spider, who has been searching the sinking vessel for Jake, finds his dying father Quaritch. He is initially hesitant to save him, however, begrudgingly rescues him, bringing him up to the surface and leaving him on nearby rocks where he regains consciousness. Quaritch begs Spider to come with him. However, Spider rejects this and returns to the Sully family thrus leaving a badly injured Quaritch returning back to Bridgehead, much to his dismay.

Epilogue[]

Tonowari, Ronal and the Metkayina Clan

Ronal and Tonowari attending the funeral

In the aftermath, Jake and his family sorrowfully conduct Neteyam's funeral according to Metkayina customs and lay his body to rest in the Cove of the Ancestors where it is absorbed by the Spirit Tree. Jake then proceeds to inform Tonowari and Ronal of his decision to leave the reef and move far away. Tonowari, however, respectfully identifies him as part of the Metkayina Clan and welcomes his family to stay. Humbled, Jake vows that he and his family will defend Awa'atlu, their new home.

Way of Water ending

Neteyam, Jake and Neytiri in the Spirit Tree

Neteyam's spirit is then visited within Eywa by his parents at the Spirit Tree. Neteyam's spirit is unaware of his death and wonders why Jake is weeping. Wishing for Neteyam's spirit to remain at peace forever, Jake only replies that he is simply happy to see him. Neytiri watches Jake and Neteyam from afar and weeps. Jake then has an epiphany about how he can no longer run away from the RDA and must fight them.

Cast[]

Na'vi[]

Recoms[]

Humans[]

Development[]

Development for the film began in 2010 with an extensive period of pre-production. An early script, now known as The High Ground script, was produced in the first few years; this was scrapped in favor of what would become The Way of Water by 2013. The film entered into production in 2017, filming concluded in September 2020 and it was released in December 2022.[8]

Title[]

James Cameron had previously stated that the film would likely not be entitled "Avatar 2", since Jake is no longer an avatar at the end of the first movie, but rather a Na'vi.[9] He also considered calling the movie "Na'vi" at one point. In November 2018, a BBC article claimed that the title would be Avatar: The Way of Water.[10] Cameron later explained in a February 2019 ET interview that the title was one of many under consideration and no final decision about titles had been made yet.[11] On April 25th, 2022, the Polish branch of Disney announced that the Polish name would be "Istota Wody", translating to "The Essence of Water" in English.[12] Avatar: The Way of Water was confirmed to be the final English title during Walt Disney's CinemaCon 2022 presentation.

The High Ground version[]

“I’ve had a storyline in mind from the start — there are even scenes in Avatar that I kept in because they lead to the sequel... It just makes sense to think of it as a two or three-film arc, in terms of the business plan. The CG plants and trees and creatures and the musculoskeletal rigging of the main characters — that all takes an enormous amount of time to create. It’d be a waste not to use it again.”

- James Cameron, 2010[13]

Avatar The High Ground issue 3 cover

Cover for the third volume of the comic adaptation

Avatar: The Way of Water's story, schedule and scope evolved dramatically over the course of its development. The core team participated in numerous interviews throughout 2010, detailing their ambitious plans to produce a sequel with a much shorter production time and a lower budget than the original. A number of concepts were publicly discussed that were never used, including having the heroes venture to some of Polyphemus's other moons,[14] and visit volcanoes.[15] Cameron continued writing the script alone through at least February 2013.[16]

A complete script, retroactively titled Avatar: The High Ground, was produced early on in the period. This was scrapped because Cameron felt that it lacked enough "subconscious" impact.[17] He also felt these ideas ultimately did not feel enough like they belonged to a film sequel, that it did not go far enough into the "unexpected" and that its "spiritual component" was not enough. Instead of discarding these ideas, the script was repurposed for the comic book The High Ground.[18] Elements of the story such as Spider's backstory were briefly recapped in the opening sequence of The Way of Water. Throughout the following years, the story was redefined and expanded, in part due to "overwriting", and the vision for the franchise slowly shifted from a trilogy to a pentalogy.[19] It is not clear exactly when The High Ground draft was discarded in favor of what would become The Way of Water, but it was likely before Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa joined the project in 2013.[20]

Pre-production[]

Scriptwriting[]

James Cameron stated in early 2012 that the style of the sequels would be influenced by the master navigator culture of the small pacific civilizations of Micronesia. He was exposed to these cultures during his time on these islands during preparation for his dive in the Marianas Trench.[21] In 2018, Cameron said that the Metkayina clan, an oceanic-based clan of Na'vi introduced in Avatar: The Way of Water, was abstractly based on Micronesian culture.[citation needed]

James Cameron hired screenwriters Amanda Silver, Rick Jaffa, Josh Friedman and Shane Salerno in 2013 to co-write the scripts for three sequels that were confirmed at the time.[22] Cameron assembled them in a writers room and provided 800 pages of notes that he wrote down over the course of six months. Before starting their work on the sequels, they first discussed how and why the first film worked so that every new idea could be measured against that standard. Cameron defined some requirements for all sequels' scripts: "It had to hit the heart, had to hit the mind, had to hit the imagination, and it had to hit something even deeper, which we had a hard time quantifying. Something you could call spiritual, or you could call subconscious. Some kind of connection that you can’t even really describe in words."[23] Although Friedman, Jaffa and Silver, and Salerno would each co-write one sequel with Cameron, they at first worked together on all three scripts. They spent their time together in the writing room for five months to develop the whole story across all sequels so that they connect as one saga.[24] None of the co-writers knew until the last day which sequel they would be assigned to so that all of them would stay focused on the entire saga and not just their respective part.[25] The writing took longer than expected which forced Cameron to announce further delays in 2015.[26]

In April 2015, the possibility of four sequels was brought up by Cameron's long-term composer James Horner.[27] In December 2015, Cameron stated that he was in the process of refining all three scripts. All characters, settings and creatures were already set at this point.[28] By April 2016, James Cameron confirmed that four Avatar sequels are on the way with the first set to release in 2018.[29] On February 11, 2017, Cameron announced that the writing of all four sequels was complete.[30] He estimated that the scripts had taken four years to write overall.[5]

Early Concept Work[]

Concepting began unusually early for The Way of Water, when Cameron hired Avatar veterans Ben Procter and Dylan Cole in May 2013. The duo began a visual exploration of the locations, vehicles and creatures that would be in the film. The script was not finalised until 2017, and so there was a great deal of iteration and refinement that took place during this period, as locations and concepts were revised.[31]

Technological Research[]

Avatar 2 behind the scenes

A brief glimpse of the studio, as shown at the 2015 D23 Expo in Japan.

The film's production faced several technological challenges, many of which were related to water simulation and rendering. The research conducted to face these obstacles resulted in a number of scientific papers released throughout production, generally released at SIGGRAPH. Some of this work built on water research that was conducted by Weta for Alita: Battle Angel, with Befores and Afters highlighting research on thin film and drip simulation conducted for that film.[32][33][34]

Sigourney Weaver Bubbles

Sigourney Weaver swimming in balls

Traditional optical motion capture struggles with reflections from the surface of the water, for example, and the use of infrared light for tracking was impossible underwater. This was circumvented with a layer of plastic balls on the surface which blocked the light while still allowing cast members to push through to breathe, and using ultraviolet light rather than visible or infrared.[35][36] A second problem related to protecting the cameras underwater, which normally necessitated large rigs with portholes that caused image distortion. Pawel Achtel developed an underwater camera system called DeepX 3D for the purpose, a two camera rig with submersible lenses which addressed this problem.[37] The underwater motion capture technology was only at the drawing board level in 2014 but was ready by the time the scripts were completed in 2017.[38]

Advances were made in fluid solving using Loki and the Manuka renderer. It became clear swiftly that a single shader or solver was inappropriate for all use cases of water, due to the sheer variety of appearances that water can have- from ocean waves to foam and splashes. Several solvers were built with Loki assigning the appropriate solver based on the needs of the scene. A paper documenting Loki was released at SIGGRAPH 2022.[39] There were also challenges with simulating the movement of boats in water and their reaction to waves. Letteri also highlighted bubbles of air as a difficulty, including the way that they are dragged underwater by characters and costumes, and the manner in which they break and collect on the surface.

Outside of the various water issues, other technological advances were made. This included Weta's move from blendshape based deformation to a muscle strain system, which gave more anatomically accurate character animation. This required the use of a neural network for inbetweening. Further work was made in depth compositing, which aided with the integration of live-action elements with digital, and a dynamic eyeline system which had a monitor move around on a wire for live-action performers to react to.[35]

A new eyeline system was developed, which gave actors proper eyeline and timing when interacting with CGI characters. It is a four pick-point cable cam system that is normally used to fly a camera during sporting events. Instead of a camera, a HD monitor and a speaker were mounted to it. The monitor played footage from the motion capture performer's headcam and their audio came from the speaker. The motion of the monitor was created by constraining the motion to the CGI character's skeleton and the data is synced and genlocked. This meant the live action actor could walk around and interact with a spatially accurate Na'vi actor. Additionally, a stunt team that wore blue suits on set helped live action actors understand the spacing of the Na'vi in a scene.[40]

Production[]

In January 2017, James Cameron stated that he was transitioning from writing to the "active prep" process, with motion capture filming planned for August and his involvement in production every day up until then. Cameron also mentioned the motion capture volume was already running and design work was completed.[41] In August 2017, Cameron confirmed that the sequels were in "full tilt" production, with actors going through the virtual sets to help give Cameron information on the scale, position, and lighting for scenes. After the virtual "scouting" shoots, Cameron entered rehearsals with the principal cast at the end of September.[42]

Principal Photography (2017-18)[]

TWOW no CGI

The Way of Water without CGI

Principal photography commenced in California on September 25, 2017, and ran until October 2018.[43][44] Avatar: The Way of Water and Avatar 3 were shot back to back and planned to go through post production sequentially, in a "two and two structure" that will also be done for Avatar 4 and 5.[45] The film was presented using a variable framerate, with scenes displayed at either 48 or 24 fps depending on the needs of the shot. While most cinemas were not capable of adjusting framerates on the fly, the workaround for this was to simply encode the entire film at 48fps and, in 24fps sequences, simply double the frames. This is also known in animation as "animating on twos".[46] Two months after filming began, Disney announced its purchase of Fox, including the rights to Avatar 2.[47] On November 14, 2018, James Cameron confirmed that the main cast of Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, and Kate Winslet had finished principal photography on Avatar: The Way of Water and Avatar 3.[48]

Underwater Motion Capture (2017-19)[]

Underwater filming

Underwater motion capture, 2019

The first successful run of the underwater motion capture technology, after extensive testing, took place on November 14, 2017. The scene involved featured the new generation cast, who were trained for six months so that they could hold their breath for long periods. As a result, the cast can hold their breath within the two to five minute range and act underwater without the need for scuba gear. Cameron was quoted as being very pleased by the capture data results, saying that they "have basically cracked the code" on underwater motion capture. A small test tank was being used with plans to move to a larger tank in January.[49] The underwater scene featured dialogue in "a kind of sign language". Kate Winslet, who plays a character from the same clan as the new generation cast, also underwent similar free-diving training as she insisted on doing all her own water work.[5]

The motion capture stage was surrounded with speakers in an effort of sound mixer Julian Howarth to immerse the cast "in an audio environment that gave them the feeling of where they were". Instead of verbally communicating to the cast what they would hear, directional audio samples and sound effects were played to them. Howarth also worked on submerged audio speakers that would allow Cameron to communicate with the cast while underwater. Additionally, four microphones, that were constantly recording, were placed around the water tank used for underwater motion capture. These recordings were incorporated into the creation of sea sounds by the sound department.[50]

Addressing misconceptions that Avatar 2 and 3 were finished filming entirely, Cameron clarified in February 2018 that filming was only finished for the principal cast that were in performance capture only, which were "the vast majority of the characters and the vast majority of the running time for the film".[51] It was later confirmed in May 2020 in an ICB260 feature that Jack Champion was also part of the lead cast group that finished motion capture.[52] In February 2019, Jon Landau confirmed that motion capture on Avatar 2 and 3 was complete, with some partial performance capture done for Avatar 4. Second unit tank work concluded in March 2019.[53]

Photography in New Zealand (2019-20)[]

A2SetPhoto

Image from the set, released October 2019.

Landau stated that live-action filming would start in spring 2019 in New Zealand.[54] This was further emphasized by Landau in another February 2019 interview, with the motion capture done for Avatar 2, Avatar 3, and parts of 4 described as "principal capture".[55] During the Empire Podcast, it was mentioned that live-action filming will start in April 2019 and that Edie Falco was cast specifically for the live-action filming. Cameron said that the live-action filming would last five months, covering both Avatar 2 and 3.[51] The film used the Sony Venice camera system.[56]

Filming was suspended in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but resumed in May after New Zealand had all but eradicated the virus. This made it the first major Hollywood picture to resume filming after the lockdowns of early 2020. In an interview with Lightstorm's senior vice president of Production Services and Technology, Geoff Burdick, IBC365 stated that the "last stage" of live-action photography was being completed at that point.[57] Cameron indicated that filming was complete by September.[8]

Post-production[]

Visual Effects and Editing[]

On July 31, 2017, it was announced that Weta Digital had commenced work on the Avatar sequels.[58] Virtual production was underway in Los Angeles by 2020, with the coronavirus pandemic halting further work in the area.[59] Around 1,700 people at Wētā FX worked on Avatar: The Way of Water.[40]

Jake Hands and Skimwing

The scene with Jake's hand

Some artistic choices were also made in the depiction of water, beyond attempting to match reality, such as limiting the loss of red light that would occur at depth. Some scenes which involved both human and Na'vi character interacting together in the water required the integration of both live-action and digital water. One of the more challenging shots was when Jake ties his wrist to a saddle in shallow water, which was actually a composite of both live-action (with painted blue arms) and CGI.[35] The hand, mid-arm and the surrounding water is practical. The hand had to be seamlessly connected to Jake's CGI arm and the real water surrounding the hand was blended with the CGI water.[60]

The movie was entirely shot as a virtual production which included full performances, lighting, and basic FX. For each scene in the virtual production, an entire area was created so that when the actors performed, James Cameron could put the camera anywhere he wanted and see the world come to life. A virtual production environment is a little like a high-end video game in which you can wander around and explore the world. A representation of this is then built on the performance capture stage, so the actors have a proper set to perform on and react to. The actors' motion is then translated onto the CGI characters for cameras and FX to be added.[40]

For all of the Na’vi and Recoms, the designers incorporated elements of the actors into the characters' designs. Incorporating elements like mouths, chins, or other features helped to translate the performance to the character and bring them to life. The underlying structure of their CG bodies is also similar, with muscle systems and bones driving the rig.[40]

A new facial system was developed within a few years. For first movie, a FACS system (Facial Action Coding System) was used for all facial, which has already been used for Gollum in Lord of the Rings. In the old model, lots of sculpts of poses that characters could achieve would be created, then the system would interpolate in between the poses to generate the facial performance. The new system, is fully muscle-driven and uses an AI network to help determine the proper tension for muscles and fat under the surface, driving the skin. Using this system, high-res facial performances became possible for all of the characters in the film, instead of just a few heroes. Therefore, background characters show the full range of emotion and performance.[40]

Some of the base models for plants and trees were reused from the first movie but they were all built to a higher resolution. The layouts of all plants and animals underwater used AI-driven procedural generation when possible to help get realistic growth patterns. This helped to better understand what multiple versions of plants might look like, including how they would grow in different situations. Water simulations helped to get proper movement from tidal swells or open ocean waves on underwater plants.[40]

The characters were all built from scratch using the original models as a guide. The level of detail in the designs and simulations of the characters was greatly increased in the new film. For example, in the first Avatar the hair was simulated on the characters with strips, and clumps of hair were all simulated as one so they did not react with one another. In The Way of Water, technology updates allowed Weta to solve individual hairs, not only on the heads of the characters, but for their peach fuzz as it interacts with the wind or water. The VFX team also considered compression and stretch for things like skin and changes to the blood flow under the surface, which in turn effect the color of the subsurface or skin color.[40]

Similar to the first film, ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) was responsible for some of the shots involving RDA vehicles. The 48 shots include the opening sequence, the Manifest Destiny approaching and landing on Pandora, the shots of the burning forest, Quaritch's arrival at Bridgehead in a shuttle (Garuda), young Spider at Hell's Gate, Spider in the interrogation room and several shots of the humans flying through the floating mountains. Some assets from the original film, such as the hammerhead titanothere, thanator and ikran were repurposed and upgraded to modern standards. Weta provided the data extracted from the shot templates that were provided by Lightstorm. These shot templates were very accurate templates for all the shots of the film and the result of the virtual production process. They were used by James Cameron to cut the film and include motion choreography, camera work, lighting, shadows, atmospherics and CGI elements. ILM didn’t start the work on the film until mid August 2022.[6]

The total amount of data stored for the production of the film was 18.5 petabytes, 18.5 times the amount of data stored for the original Avatar.[61] Wētā FX used Amazon Web Services to render 38%[61] of the film because its own data center's processing capacity was not sufficient for the task. Rendering each frame took 8,000 thread hours which is equivalent to the combined power of 3,000 virtual CPUs in a data center for an hour. The capacity of three Australian AWS data centers was used to render the film.[62][63]

On March 7, 2019, the first footage of Avatar 2 was shown to Disney shareholders during a meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. It's unknown what was shown specifically or how finished the footage was.[64]

Editing took place under David Brenner, James Cameron, John Refoua, and Stephen E. Rivkin. Brenner joined the project around 2021 but passed away the following year.[65] Final mastering of the film was completed on November 23, 2022.[66]

Marketing[]

Trailers[]

A teaser trailer for the film was shown in 3D on April 27, 2022, during Walt Disney Studio's presentation for CinemaCon 2022 and began showing publicly on May 6, 2022, in line with the debut of Marvel Studios' Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It was released online on May 9th.[67]

On June 17, a slightly altered version of the trailer began showing in theaters in front of PG-rated films, starting with Disney Pixar's Lightyear. This version of the trailer has an alternate shot of a recom walking through the jungle and the scene of Jake on a skimwing was edited to have him hold a spear instead of a gun.[68][69] The music for the teaser trailer is available as a fan recreation.[70][71] Previews of the film were shown to audiences during Disney's D23 Expo on September 10, and a small selection of preview scenes later began playing at the end of Avatar theatrical re-release showings.

The second trailer debuted on the American news television broadcast Good Morning America on November 2, 2022.[72] It was released online the same day.[73] The music is based on the track "Magnifique" by the duo Lucid Dreams. The track was inspired by the feeling of flying. The agency responsible for the trailer requested a customized version that includes themes by James Horner from the original Avatar. It underwent several iterations and took 14 months to complete because the trailer was not shown to them before its release.[74]

The third and final trailer debuted on November 21, 2022 on ESPN during "Monday Night Football"[75] and was made available online shortly after.[76] The music track used is "Monolith" by Black Hydra, a composing team that specializes in film and TV advertising music.[77]

Other Promotions[]

Pandora-dedication-2-1068x712

The Floridan theme park.

Pandora: The World of Avatar, a themed area in Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom theme park, serves as both a promotional platform for the sequels and a physical reference point for the Avatar cast and crew. As the sets for the movies are digital, cast visits to the theme park attraction help provide a sensory experience that wouldn't normally be obtained through motion capture shooting on a sterile set. The scenery for the park also provides a backdrop for photoshoots featuring the cast. The first photos of the "new generation" cast were taken at the park along with video, similar to original cast photo and video taken when the attraction first opened.[78][79][80][81]

In October 2022, shoe company Cariuma released Avatar inspired shoes.[82]

On the evening of the second trailer's release, a light show with 600 drones followed by a holographic projection with some footage of the new film was planned to take place in Niagara Falls, the city James Cameron grew up nearby.[83] The light show was cancelled to due thick fog.[84] The holographic projection started with a 45 minutes delay.[85] Projection lights were visible on webcam starting at 09:45 pm local time for at least 30 minutes. A live stream by ABC was announced but did not occur. The announcement was removed from the website around 10:00 pm without any further information. A short video was released on YouTube with footage from the rehearsal the night before.[86]

Changi Airport Marui Pod

The exhibit in the Singapore airport.

From Nov 11 to Jan 2, 2023, Singapore's international airport Changi hosted the "Changi Festive Village 2022" in its terminal 3 departure hall to promote The Way of Water and the recently opened theme park Avatar: The Experience. The village featured a life-size representation of marui pods with a height of 7 meters. The pods were inspired by the homes of the Metkayina clan and are fully furnished and decorated. Life-size replicas of Jake and Neytiri were in and around the pods. The installation also served as venue for performances of the band "Ventus Music" that plays iconic music from the films along with a small light show. During nighttime, visitors of the airport's top-most floor saw bioluminescent light displays and several interactive screens displaying marine creatures that respond to movements. There was also a four meter tall smoke bubble tree, glow-in-the-dark corals and an interactive floor screen that reacts with bioluminescent waves to footsteps. The airport's 40-meter indoor waterfall featured a "Rain Vortex" show several times per day. Creatures such as the ilu and tulkun are projected onto the waterfall as part of a 3-minute light show. From November 18, some merchandise such as toys, figurines, bags and glow-in-the-dark t-shirts could be bought.[87][88][89]

Electric future

"Join our journey to a fully electric future."

On November 18th, 2022, Mercedes-Benz posted an advertisement comparing Earth to Pandora and asked viewers to join the company in committing to an electric car future.[90] Previously, the company created an Avatar-inspired car known as the "VISION AVTR" created using vegan leather and producing no emissions.

On December 13, 2022, three days before the film's release, a documentary called Avatar: The Deep Dive was released.

Dolphin show

Cameron attending the controversial dolphin show

During the promotion of The Way of Water, Cameron, along with the other adult main actors, attended a show in Japan where dolphins performed. He sarcastically said during it, "I'm sure everybody asked their permission to be in the show." His attendance caused controversy because many Avatar fans felt it was antithetical to the themes of the series to use animals as entertainment. Cameron later revealed he was blindsighted to the show, thinking it would be a typical aquarium and only discovered there was a dolphin show the moment he walked on stage. Cameron said he was "seething" inside but did not want to seem rude to the Japanese hosts by speaking out and possibly creating a big public incident. He later felt, "Maybe I should have, in retrospect." Cameron apologized for the show and not speaking up more, calling it a faux pas outside his ability to foresee or prevent, and blamed Disney Japan for the tone-deaf promotion.[91]

Delays[]

We weren’t wasting time, we were putting it into tech development and design. So when all the scripts were approved, everything was designed. Every character, every creature, every setting.

- James Cameron, 2017[5]

The release was moved seven times from its original date in December 2014 through to December 2022 (discounting the 2017 delay with no firm date that was then clarified in a second announcement a month later, and a similar event on July 23rd, 2020). Five of these delays occurred before the start of production in 2017, while the remaining two were caused by wider events during production - namely the Disney acquisition of Fox in 2019 and the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

In October 2013, shooting plans were for fall 2014,[92] and intended to be shot before Alita: Battle Angel (2019). Filming ultimately commenced in September 2017, over five years behind the original plan.[44] Cameron held a pragmatic view about the delays, as crucial tech development and design were done in the time it took the scripts for the four sequels to be written.[5] Five of the delays took place during the pre-production phase of development, prior to the completion of the scripts and designs in 2017. One of those delays was subject to speculation of a clash with The Last Jedi, which had in turn been rescheduled into the same slot.[93]

The remaining two delays took place during production. The first of these was in May 2019, when Disney reorganized their theatrical release slate in the wake of their acquisition of Fox. Among many other franchises, this purchase included Avatar. The changes affected all of their major franchises and delayed all Avatar sequels. The slate as planned at the time involved a Star Wars movie and an Avatar movie alternating in the Christmas slot until 2027, with Avatar releases in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027.

This 2019 slate was revised again a year later, as the Coronavirus Pandemic hampered production efforts across the industry. While Avatar 2 was largely being shot in New Zealand, which was for the most part COVID-free until early 2022, virtual production in Los Angeles was slowed by the situation. The Avatar Twitter account confirmed the seventh delay on July 23rd, with a formal slate-wide announcement taking place the following day. A large group of Disney-owned films including Star Wars were delayed a full year in the same announcement.[94] This was ultimately the final delay for the film.

Avatar2 delays

Days remaining until Avatar: The Way of Water, going by then-current release dates over time. Spikes represent delays. The slope of the graph is occasionally distorted by vague release windows.

Release Date Changes
Announcement date Release date
October 10, 2010 December 2014[95]
September 10, 2012 2015
August 2, 2013 December 2016[96]
January 14, 2015 Summer 2018[97]
April 14, 2016 December 2018[98]
March 9, 2017 No firm date[99]
April 22, 2017 December 18, 2020[100]
May 7, 2019 December 17, 2021[101]
July 24, 2020 December 16, 2022

Releases[]

Theatrical Release[]

The film's world premiere took place on a blue carpet at the Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on December 6, 2022 in London.[102]

Avatar: The Way of Water was released in theaters in both IMAX 3D as well as the regular 2D format. Some theaters also supported ScreenX and 4DX; ScreenX is extended widescreen while 4DX involves vibrating chairs and scented mists for immersion.

Theaters around the globe vary greatly in their screening capabilities. As a result, 1,065 unique delivery versions of the movie have been created to deliver the best possible experience to each individual theater. These versions included combinations of 2D, 3D, HDR, 4K, varying light levels, aspect ratios, 24 or 48 frames per second, a range of audio formats, 51 languages supported with subtitles and 28 languages supported by dubbing. For the distribution of the film by Walt Disney Studios to theaters worldwide, the movie was effectively divided into 15 reels so that delivery elements could be created early even though they did not have the complete movie, yet. The complete movie was available only 16 days before the release. Roughly 800 versions of the movie underwent quality control in the last five days before release.[103]

For Earth Day 2023, some select theatres around the world brought back The Way of Water for another week.

Digital Release[]

The Way of Water Now Streaming Disney+ Poster

The first home video release was announced on March 7, 2023. On March 28, 2023, Avatar: The Way of Water became available in 4K Ultra HD quality with Dolby Atmos surround sound as a digital edition for purchase. As part of the digital release, there are three hours of bonus materials focusing on topics such as motion capture, creating the undersea world of Pandora, the introduction of the Metkayina reef clan, and the casting of the young actors.[104]

The film released on Disney+ and HBO Max on June 7, 2023.

Its digital release was extremely successful, becoming the most watched movie in June 2023 with nearly 2 billion minutes watched by viewers on both Disney+ and HBO Max.[105][106]

Ultimate Collector's Edition[]

TWOW Ultimate Edition

Ultimate Collector's Edition

Avatar: The Way of Water Ultimate Collector's Edition released on June 20, 2023 for Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray and DVD. The base cover depicts Lo'ak, Neteyam, Tsireya and Payakan in the background. It includes three hours of bonus content. There are special editions from different retailers:

  • Decal edition (Target): Has the aforementioned cover, but includes a decal
  • Steel book (Best Buy): Features a cover of Jake on a skimwing
  • Lenticular packaging (Walmart): Features a cover similar to the theatrical poster of Jake, Neytiri, Lo'ak and Tsireya

It was later announced that the film's physical release was the number one sold physical movie in June 2023, topping Blu-ray and DVD sales charts.[107]

Collector's Edition[]

Avatar 2 CE

Collector's Edition

Another 4K Blu-ray edition was released on December 19, 2023 known as the Avatar: The Way of Water Collector's Edition. The title can be seen as an ironic misnomer because this "Collector's Edition" release can be seen as being more definitive than the "Ultimate Collector's Edition" released half a year prior. This is a four-disc set; the actual content of the film is the same, but it now has Dolby Vision. There are two discs containing the film, one for 4K UHD and one for standard Blu-ray. The other two discs are dedicated for bonus features, which now include deleted and extended scenes.

Soundtrack[]

Avatar; The Way of Water - Special Edition score

The score for The Way of Water

  See also: Avatar: The Way of Water (Soundtrack)

James Horner was billed to return to compose the sequel. In 2015, Horner stated that he would stay with the Avatar series through its entire run "If I last that long".[108] However, Horner died in a plane crash in June 2015.[109] With the film still two years away from having a completed script, a new composer was needed - the post remaining unfilled as late as March 2019.[110] Simon Franglen, who had collaborated frequently with Horner in the past, was publicly announced as the new composer that December.[111] Franglen had already worked closely with Horner as electronic music arranger on the soundtrack for the first film.

After Horner's death, Franglen composed the music for Pandora: The World of Avatar. In late 2017, James Cameron asked Franglen to read the scripts for the sequels. The goal of starting the collaboration early was to develop the score in parallel to the film. Franglen designed unique Pandoran musical instruments for the film which the prop department brought into reality. The sea is an integral part to the themes and motifs of the score.[112]

The_Weeknd_-_Nothing_Is_Lost_(You_Give_Me_Strength)_(Official_Music_Video)

The Weeknd - Nothing Is Lost (You Give Me Strength) (Official Music Video)

"The Songcord" is a song in the Na'vi language which Neytiri sings twice in the film. The song was written by Simon Franglen and performed by Zoe Saldaña.

The song "Nothing Is Lost (You Give Me Strength)" by "The Weeknd" plays during the film's end credits. The song was produced by Swedish House Mafia and Simon Franglen.

Reception[]

The Way of Water received generally positive reviews and holds a certified fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, having a 76% critic score and an average audience score of 92%.[113] On IMDb, it has an average rating of 7.6/10.[114] The site's ratings show that women liked The Way of Water more than men on average, contrasting the first film in which men were more likely to enjoy it.

Critics praised the film's visuals and immersive use of 3D, and also praised the intense action-packed final hour of the film.[115] Guillermo del Toro said The Way of Water has "emotions at an epic, epic scale" and commented that the film is created by a master at the peak of his powers.[116] The Way of Water also created another round of Post-Avatar Depression Syndrome (PADS) in many viewers.[117]

However, The Telegraph gave the film a 2 out of 10, claiming The Way of Water does not have a plot or any stakes in it, and that watching Avatar: The Way of Water feels like being "waterboarded with turquoise cement".[118] TodayOnline called the movie a "three-hour screensaver".[119] FreshFiction compared the movie to watching a National Geographic documentary, but did not necessarily say this was a bad thing because the reviewer personally enjoys them.[120]

When criticism was made, it was mainly directed towards the story, with some feeling it was too derivative of the first film with too many similar moments and story beats, even half-joking that after 13 years of waiting, the story is the same as the first's but by the sea. For example:

  • Both films open with scenic shots of jungle skies (at least in the case of the Extended version of Avatar).
  • Jake/Quaritch wakes up on a spaceship; they later cause others to panic while getting used to their body. Jake/Quaritch arrives at the RDA base (Hell's Gate/Bridgehead) where he meets the SecOps commander (Quaritch/Ardmore) who exercises in their free time and speaks to them in a large suit (AMP Suit/Skel Suit). Quaritch/Ardmore asks for intel on the Na'vi.
  • Quaritch delivers a speech to soldiers about how Pandora is not Kansas.
  • The RDA is back for resources, with Quaritch being the villain again.
  • There is a forest scene where the protagonists (Jake/Sully children) find themselves in danger (viperwolves/Recoms). When it is night, Neytiri later rescues them. The protagonists are also held hostage by a group of a tall blue species (Tsu'tey's group/Quaritch and his Recoms).
  • The main characters are trying to live with a clan, requesting shelter; they are scrutinized by the tsahìk (Mo'at, Ronal) who doubts if the clan's ways can be learned by an outsider. The tsahìk are alarmed by the blood of the protagonist for having human DNA (Mo'at licks Jake's blood while Ronal mentions Kiri and Lo'ak have demon blood). The clan leader (Eytukan/Tonowari) convinces the clan to accept them so they can try to learn. The tsakarem (Neytiri/Tsireya) is instructed to teach and a budding romance forms between Jake/Lo'ak and the tsakarem. A male Na'vi (Tsu'tey/Aonung) becomes a rival-like bully character to Jake/Lo'ak, but after Jake/Lo'ak bonds with an animal (an ikran/Payakan), he becomes friendly.
  • The scene with Lo'ak escaping an akula can be seen as a parallel to the thanator chase.
  • Quaritch tames a banshee like Jake does.
  • Jake struggles with taming an animal (a direhorse/skimwing) and falls off. Jake/Lo'ak are also told to feel an animal's breath and heartbeat while trying to ride.
  • Led by the tsakarem, the protagonists connect to a spirit tree where the memories of Na'vi ancestors reside; but a tragic incident occurs soon after (bulldozing of the Tree of Voices/Kiri falling into a coma) which is the inciting incident which draws the RDA closer in conflict with the Na'vi. Both Jake and Kiri are also unconscious and have their loved ones worry if they will awaken, but this plot point is resolved in the next five minutes of the film (Jake returns to his avatar in time while Kiri recovers from her coma).
  • Jake's plan is in turmoil because the RDA happens to notice his allies in the skies (while rallying 2,000 Na'vi and while calling Norm and Max to assist Kiri).
  • The RDA destroys something treasured to the Na'vi (sacred trees/a tulkun) which provokes the clan into war. While the Na'vi are in a crowd, Jake tries to convince the Omatikaya/Metkayina not to take the bait, and not fight back against the RDA. This does not work since both clans eventually end up fighting back against the RDA anyway. In both films, it is ultimately a large animal (Toruk and Payakan) which ultimately gives the Na'vi hope they can win.
  • Some of the main characters are imprisoned by the RDA, but they are rescued by an ally who later dies in the battle against the RDA (Trudy/Neteyam).
  • Neteyam's death scene can be seen as being similar to Eytukan/Grace/Tsu'tey; all four die from torso injuries. This death motivates the Na'vi/Sully family to fight the RDA.
  • A final battle where the RDA loses because their technology cannot keep up with Pandoran animals.
  • Jake has a one-on-one fight with Quaritch, since Neytiri is too busy dealing with something else (trying to escape under a thanator corpse/escorting her children to safety). The knife-wielding Quaritch is defeated in combat.
  • Jake's life is in danger from losing oxygen, but he is saved by a family member (Neytiri/Lo'ak). Eywa also saves the day and the protagonists' lives (the animals fight for Eywa/Kiri uses Eywa to summon glowing squids). Jake says "I See You" to someone after.
  • The Na'vi gather in the ending to perform a funeral involving Eywa and the death of someone (Jake's human body/Neteyam). The movie ends with Jake opening his eyes.

Some viewers felt it has underdeveloped characters.[citation needed] Scott Mantz felt, "the story itself is weaker than the first."[121] However, this was not the consensus with other critics such as Erik Davis of Fandango who felt the story is more emotional than the first film.[122] Some viewers were annoyed by the dialogue, particularly by the amount of times "bro" was said.[citation needed] The film also has a major plot hole; there is no in-universe explanation for why the Metkayina clan seems to disappear from the final battle. The film's long 3 hour runtime was also a point of division, with some feeling that it does not feel like 3 hours, while others felt the film's story could be told in a shorter runtime.[citation needed]

What's our plan

Neytiri is said to be sidelined in The Way of Water

Another issue some had was the handling of the film's deleted scenes and how it affected its female characters. While the film passes the Bechdel test unlike its predecessor, and the female cast are far from being useless (Neytiri and Ronal help in battle, Ronal saves Kiri, Kiri saves two of her family members), many viewers felt Neytiri and Ardmore were sidelined and underused, and that were strange design choices. A scene was deleted of Mo'at having an emotional parting with Neytiri and Tuk. The film does not bother to explain what Neytiri is up to during her time with the Metkayina, leaving a small blurb in The Visual Dictionary to mention Ronal is teaching her the ways of the ocean. A scene of Neytiri struggling to ride an ilu was deleted; instead she is merely shown making meals.[123]

Violence[]

Prager's death

Jake Sully spearing someone to death.

The film received some minor controversy for its violent elements. Despite that the film was PG-13, some parents brought their young children to see the film anyway, mistakenly thinking it would be family friendly; some of the marketing depicted Jake and Neytiri cuddling and playing with their children. This misconception led to some negative reviews. Despite this, some parents think The Way of Water should be closer to an R-rating instead of PG-13 due to having morbid qualities, with some viewers feeling on edge throughout the film as if they are in a nightmarish war zone or a stressful horror film. It can easily be argued the film has a depressing unhappy quality to it:

Ronal finds Ro'a

Ronal finds Ro'a's lifeless body.

Spider screams

Spider screams as Neytiri cuts him.

  • There is a lot of gun violence and melee action (spears and axes) shown.
  • There is animal death throughout; the story begins with the RDA roasting presumably hundreds/thousands of animals to death in a massive fire, an ilu is shot and killed, a flashback of tulkun being killed is shown, and the film contains a long scene of Ro'a being killed. The slaughter of Ro'a was viewed as "hard to watch" with some viewers thinking the film "went too far" in its portrayal of animal cruelty and violence[124]
  • An ilu is attacked by an akula and leaves a trail of blood. Lo'ak also apparently kills a fish while hunting.
  • A man's arm is severed off.
  • A 15-year-old boy (Neteyam) dies tragically and violently.
  • Three jump scare moments (Tuk being ambushed in the forest, Lo'ak wakes up on Payakan, and Tuk being scared in the airbell); this is easily amplified by the volume in certain theaters being louder than others.
  • Much of the film involves children being bullied, threatened or in danger. Spider is even tortured at one point while he screams to be released, while Kiri suffers a seizure and falls into a coma.
  • At one point, Tsireya begins meditating with Lo'ak. While the scene starts off tranquil, Tsireya brings up the word "death" twice during her The Way of Water speech, showing how Lo'ak and even the viewer can hardly catch a break from thinking about the war and people dying.
  • Miles Quaritch claims he will kill the entire Sully family. Although Quaritch almost drowns and gives the audience relief that he will no longer be a threat, Spider rescues him, allowing him to terrorize the family for another Avatar film.

Box Office and Records[]

WOW Chinese Poster

A Chinese poster in the style of an acrylic painting showing Payakan playing with Lo'ak

The film's box office had factors working against it, including being released during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, a massive snowstorm hitting the United States,[125] another wave of COVID hitting China with more restrictions,[126] and some theaters had their projectors crash due to the 3D and high frame rate scenes, especially in Japan, resulting in refunds and lost revenue.[127] The film was allowed to get a rare extension in China to at least February 15 to give the film a fairer chance and to allow more people to see it.[128] The Russia-Ukraine war of 2022 also meant that a portion of the theaters in Ukraine were unable to show the film while Disney decided to ban the film's release in Russia entirely. This resulted in Russia legalizing pirated copies of the film as the country began to legalize pirated films in general.[129] For comparison, the first Avatar received approximately 116 million in Russia, meaning The Way of Water lost significant revenue for Russia's population of approximately 145 million people.

The film performed below expectations in the United States and China in its opening weekend. Despite these issues, it was far from a flop and the film's revenue still managed to pass the $1 billion mark in 14 days as a result of its strong legs.[130] On January 5th, 2023, it reached 1.5 billion and became the highest grossing 2022 film, passing Top Gun: Maverick.[131] On January 22, 2023, it was announced the film surpassed $2 billion. On February 5, 2023, the film surpassed Titanic overseas, becoming the third largest international release. On February 10th, 2023, the film overtook Titanic as the third-highest grossing film of all time at $2.2 billion; while the Titanic re-release on the 10th gave competition between the two James Cameron films briefly, The Way of Water maintained its third place on the 12th by having a few more million. On March 19th, 2023, it was announced the film surpassed 2.3 billion. It is now the third highest-grossing film of all time and the highest-grossing post-pandemic film.

The film was very popular in India, surpassing an advance ticket sale speed record previously held by Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.[132] On January 13, 2023, it became the highest-grossing Hollywood film in India, surpassing Avengers: Endgame.[133]

The Way of Water eventually became the highest-grossing film of all time in Germany, France, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Turkey, UAE, Cambodia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Colombia and Puerto Rico.[134]

Awards[]

95th Academy Awards[135]

  • Best Visual Effects

American Film Institute Awards[136]

  • Top 10 Films of the Year

Annie Awards[137]

  • Best FX - Feature (Jonathan M. Nixon, David Moraton, Nicholas Illingworth, David Caeiro Cebrian, Alex Nowotny)
  • Best Character Animation - Live Action (Daniel Barrett, Stuart Adcock, Todd Labonte, Douglas McHale, Stephen Cullingford)

Black Reel Awards[138]

  • Outstanding Voice Performance (Zoe Saldaña)

British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA)[139]

  • Special Visual Effects (Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon, Daniel Barrett)

Critics' Choice Movie Awards[140]

  • Best Visual Effects

Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards[141]

  • Best Cinematography (Russell Carpenter)

Florida Film Critics Circle Awards[142]

  • Best Visual Effects

Hollywood Critics Association Creative Arts Awards[143]

  • Visual Effects (Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon, Daniel Barrett)

Hollywood Music in Media Awards[144]

  • Best Original Score in a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film

Houston Film Critics Society Awards[145]

  • Best Visual Effects

International Film Music Critics Association Awards[146]

  • Film Music Composition of the Year (Simon Franglen for "Leaving Home (Hometree)")
  • Best Original Score for a Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror Film (Simon Franglen)

Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards[147]

  • Best Production Design (Dylan Cole and Ben Proctor)

Lumiere Awards[148]

  • Best Feature Film – Live Action
  • Voices For The Earth Award

National Board of Review Awards[149]

  • Top Ten Films

New York Film Critics Online Awards[150]

  • Top Films of the Year

Online Film Critics Society Awards[151]

  • Best Visual Effects
  • 3D Effects Design

San Diego Film Critics Society Awards[152]

  • Best Visual Effects

Saturn Awards[153]

  • Best Science Fiction Film
  • Best Film Direction (James Cameron)
  • Best Film Screenwriting (James Cameron, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver)
  • Best Film Visual Effects (Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon, Daniel Barrett)

Seattle Film Critics Society Awards[154]

  • Best Visual Effects (Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon, and Daniel Barrett)

St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Awards[155]

  • Best Visual Effects (Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon, and Daniel Barrett)

Visual Effects Society Awards[156]

  • Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature (Richard Baneham, Walter Garcia, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, J. D. Schwalm)
  • Outstanding Animated Character in a Photoreal Feature (Anneka Fris, Rebecca Louise Leybourne, Guillaume Francois, Jung-Rock Hwang for "Kiri")
  • Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature (Jessica Cowley, Joe W. Churchill, Justin Stockton, Alex Nowotny for "The Reef")
  • Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature (Jonathan M. Nixon, David Moraton, Nicolas Illingworth, David Caeiro Cebrian for "Water Simulations")
  • Outstanding Compositing and Lighting in a Feature (Sam Cole, Francois Sugny, Florian Schroeder, Jean Matthews for "Water Integration")
  • Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a CG Project (Richard Baneham, Dan Cox, Eric Reynolds, and A.J Briones)
  • Outstanding Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project (Sam Sharplin, Stephen Skorepa, Ian Baker, Guillaume Francois for "The Sea Dragon")
  • Outstanding Special (Practical) Effects in a Photoreal or Animated Project (J. D. Schwalm, Richie Schwalm, Nick Rand, Robert Spurlock for "Current Machine and Wave Pool")
  • Emerging Technology Award (Alexy Dmitrievich Stomakhin, Steve Lesser, Sven Joel Wretborn, Douglas McHale for "Water Toolset")

Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards[157]

  • Best Motion Capture Performance (Zoe Saldaña)

In Other Media[]

Avatar The High Ground issue 1 cover

The High Ground comic which features the new characters in The Way of Water.

During the initial announcements for Pandora: The World of Avatar in 2011, James Cameron stated that the theme park area would include elements from the second and third movies.[158] The park opened on May 27, 2017; approximately five and a half years before The Way of Water released.

The two comics Avatar: The Next Shadow and Avatar: The High Ground are set in between the first film and The Way of Water. The High Ground serves as a direct prequel to the second film. The High Ground in particular is derived from a scrapped script for the sequel. Cameron was not content with the quality of the script, stating that "It didn’t play enough by Avatar rules".[159] It was handed to the actors in preparation for their roles and adapted into a comic series.[159] Some elements of the script were also incorporated into The Way of Water and Avatar 3.[159]

Two tie in books, The Art of Avatar: The Way of Water and Avatar: The Way of Water: The Visual Dictionary, were released on the film's release date.

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is a 2023 video game that, while not having major crossover aspects with The Way of Water, is set between the film's unseen one year time skip. Jake Sully, Parker Selfridge and Frances Ardmore were mentioned in the game.

Trivia[]

Different outfits

Jake and Neytiri wearing different outfits.

  • Jake and Neytiri are seen wearing different outfits on their night date vs. when the RDA burns the forest. Jake even wears an additional second necklace. This indicates the Na'vi had time to prepare for the RDA's return and that these two scenes did not occur immediately after each other which is an easy misconception one may make. This allows Avatar: The High Ground to fit in between these scenes.
  • Unlike the first film, The Way of Water does not have an extended cut, only having various unfinished deleted and extended scenes.
  • The word "bro" is said exactly 40 times during the movie.
  • The Way of Water has been praised for having lots of background details that are missable if viewers are looking at the wrong spot at the wrong time, giving it rewatch value and fans have noted dozens of examples.
    • Helicoradian from the first film can be seen in the background when the Recoms descend in a very hard-to-miss manner.
    • Spider can be seen giving the camera the middle finger on one of the cameras.
    • A rather disturbing detail, in the RDA's prison cell, an abstract "AM BLUE" can be seen in a fashion resembling a pictogram, implying a captured Na'vi was trying to communicate with the RDA using their vague understanding of English. Another pictogram-like writing can be seen, as well as a handprint with only 4 digits. The Na'vi do not have a writing system but use pictograms.
    • Kiri can be seen comforting her mother's shoulder when they arrive at the sea clan.
    • When Lo'ak notices Tsireya and looks away, Neytiri can be seen glancing at Lo'ak and she seems to be trying to hide a smirk.
    • When Ronal accuses Lo'ak of having demon blood and shows his hand, one female member of the clan can be seen staring at her own hand in response, as if she is having an existential crisis or needs to remember how many fingers are on her hand. This has been joked about by viewers.
    • When Kiri and Jake have their talk with their feet in the water, Neytiri can be seen briefly watching them in their marui, but when Tuk appears, they both leave.
    • When Kiri is in her coma, Neteyam and Lo'ak can be seen watching her, showing their concern for their sister.
    • While the RDA is deploying their submarines, one of them has a Recom/Na'vi pin-up girl decal.
    • Garvin and Scoresby wear a variety of different shirts, hinting the film is set across days.
  • Regarding the Metkayina disappearing during the final battle, James Cameron said in a feedback Q&A with fans that a scene was filmed that shows the Sully and Metkayina families bond, but it was cut because it felt like it would take the spotlight away from the Sully family. Cameron admitted that it probably was not a great decision.[160]
  • 10 minutes of gun violence was cut from the final film because Cameron did not want to make the movie seem like it was glamorizing guns, something he now regrets in his previous movies like The Terminator series. He commented, "What's happening with guns in our society turns my stomach."[161]
  • In order to avoid the idea of hypocrisy to keep in line with the environmental and animal rights issues the Avatar series is known for, only vegan food was served on set and this will be continued for all the Avatar sequels. Cameron commented, "Eating meat is not only killing us, it’s killing the planet. The environmental impacts are enormous."[162] James Cameron and Jon Landau gave the production crew the Avatar Plant Based Cookbook created by themselves and the team's chefs to remember their meals they ate on set. A video about this decision is here.
  • The Way of Water and Avatar 3 were originally supposed to be one large movie, however, Cameron wished to divide them and he rewrote them into being separate movies.[163] A consequence of this is that some viewers felt some characters introduced in The Way of Water (Ardmore, Tonowari, Ronal, Tsireya) lacked character development and felt thin. These characters will be explored more in Avatar 3.
  • The Way of Water Lo'ak and Ao'nung Fight

    Na'vi boys fighting over their biological differences which can be seen an allegory for racism

    Cameron wanted to portray universal themes that all human beings, no matter their culture, usually have to deal with, hence why The Way of Water focuses on family, both struggling to fit into one as well as keeping it safe. Examples of other themes include struggling with identity, bullying, pet loss, children feeling misunderstood by their parents, having to move to a new location which can cause children distress, and even learning how to swim. Additionally, the Sully family being bullied for their different physical attributes can be interpreted as a metaphor for racism. He stated, "They’re not extraordinary problems. They’re not going up against some guy that’s trying to conquer the galaxy. They have real problems. And I’m not dissing superhero movies. I love ‘em, they’re our modern myths and legends, they’re the Greek gods fighting. We love all of that stuff, but that’s not the movie I wanted to make.”[164]
  • Avatar-The-Way-of-Water-20th-Century-Studios

    Ardmore, the franchise's first major female villain

    While every major female character in the first Avatar was good-natured, The Way of Water explores female villainy. Frances Ardmore is the franchise's first major female antagonist following constant male antagonists such as Selfridge, Quaritch, John Cage, Karl Falco, Conrad Olson and Anthony Ossman. Two Recombinants (Walker and Zdinarsik) are female, the latter callously blowing bubblegum as her team terrorizes a village. An unnamed woman also spears a flotation device into Roa while chasing the tulkun.
    • Artsut can be considered the first female antagonist in the series, however, as she tried to poison Jake to death, although she only appeared in the comic Avatar: The Next Shadow.
  • Regarding the film's three hour length, Cameron stated, “I don’t want anybody whining about length when they sit and binge-watch [television] for eight hours. It’s like, give me a fucking break. I’ve watched my kids sit and do five one-hour episodes in a row. Here’s the big social paradigm shift that has to happen: it’s OK to get up and go pee.” He also stated that the longer run time was important to show the emotions and the relationships, something he felt the first film did not do as much.[165]
  • Cameron stated that Jake and Neytiri have matured to have less reckless personalities due to being parents, clarifying, "In the first movie, Sam’s character leaps off his flying creature and essentially changes the course of history as a result of this crazy, almost suicidal leap of faith. And Zoe’s character leaps off a limb and assumes there’s going to be some nice big leaves down there that can cushion her fall. But when you’re a parent, you don’t think that way. So for me, as a parent of five kids, I’m saying, “What happens when those characters mature and realize that they have a responsibility outside their own survival?”
  • Due the filming in water, the cast had to learn how to hold their breath, with Zoe Saldaña nearly six minutes, Sigourney Weaver at six-and-a-half, and Kate Winslet at seven.[166] Sam Worthington commented that he found the long underwater filming to be a particularly frightening experience, saying he had to overcome and face his fears.
  • The children of the Sully family are inspired by Cameron's own children.[167]
  • James Cameron worked collaboratively with the actors. Dialogs were discussed frequently and things changed on the fly. For example, the scene in which Recom Quaritch discovers his human corpse and eventually crushes its skull was suggested by Stephen Lang.[168]
  • The film's logo was created by Chris Ables[169] on which the franchise's new font is based. It was created by John Roshell.[170]
  • Before the film was released, some individuals called for a boycott of the film for its believed cultural appropriation and 'blueface'.[171]
  • Cracked remade the film's trailer with a budget of 20 dollars seen here.

Media[]

References[]

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  3. Box Office Mojo
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  27. Collider: AVATAR 5 a Possibility; Composer James Horner Says Cameron Has Scripts for 4 Sequels
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  50. TheWrap: Sound Mixer Created Live Sound Design for the Actors During Mo-Cap Filming
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  104. Variety: ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Sets Digital Release
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  107. MediaPlayNews: Avatar: The Way of Water’ Tops DVD and Blu-ray Sales Charts
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  120. FreshFiction review
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  122. Variety article
  123. Neytiri Was Underutilized in Avatar: The Way of Water
  124. Looper: The Avatar: The Way Of Water Scene That Went Too Far
  125. BBC: US winter storm: Icy blast hits 250m Americans and Canadians
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  127. The Times of India: The Way of Water crashes movie theatres in Japan
  128. Hollywood Reporter: Avatar 2 Gets Rare China Release Extension
  129. FandomWire: Russia Reportedly Legalizing Pirated Copies of Avatar
  130. IGN: The Way of Water Crosses $1 Billion at the Global Box Office In Just 14 Days
  131. Screenrant: Way of Water Passes Top Gun 2 As Highest Grossing 2022 Movie
  132. Outlook: The Way of Water Is Setting Box-Office Records In India Ahead Of It's Release
  133. Variety: The Way of Water Crosses Avengers: Endgame to Become Highest Hollywood Grosser of All Time in India
  134. Collider: ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Sinks ‘Titanic’ to Become the 3rd Highest-Grossing Film of All Time
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  138. Deadline: Annual Black Reel Awards
  139. EE BAFTA Film Awards: Winners Announced
  140. The Winners of the 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards
  141. 2022 Dallas-Ft. Worth Film Critics Associations winners
  142. 2022 Florida Film Critics Circle winners
  143. 2023 HCA Awards
  144. Media Awards (HMMA) winners
  145. Houston Film Critics’ Awards
  146. IFMCA Award Winners 2022
  147. Variety: Los Angeles Film Critics Awards
  148. Variety: ‘Avatar 2’ and ‘Elvis’ Lead Winners at Advanced Imaging Society’s Lumiere Awards
  149. Variety: National Board of Review
  150. New York Film Critics Online Awards
  151. 2022 Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) winners
  152. 2022 San Diego Film Critics Society (SDFCS) winners
  153. https://deadline.com/2024/02/2024-saturn-awards-winners-list-1235815080/
  154. 2022 Seattle Film Critics Society (SFCS) winners
  155. 2022 St. Louis Film Critics Association winners
  156. Deadline: ‘Avatar: The Way Of Water’ Dominates VES Awards With Nine Wins
  157. Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards
  158. Reuters: James Cameron on 3D, "Titanic" and all things "Avatar" (archived)
  159. 159.0 159.1 159.2 Gamesradar: Cameron discusses his scrapped Avatar 2 script
  160. Q&A With James Cameron and Jon Landau
  161. ThePrint: Cameron says he cut 10 minutes of gun violence from ‘Avatar 2’
  162. Cameron Brings Pro-Vegan Message To Sundance Docu And To The Set Of ‘Avatar’ Sequels Green Film Shooting article
  163. IndieWire: James Cameron interview
  164. Movieweb: Cameron Says Avatar: The Way of Water Is Different Than Superhero Movies: 'The Problems That They're Facing are Real'
  165. Variety: Cameron Explains ‘Avatar 2’ Three-Hour Runtime: ‘We Didn’t Spend as Much Time on Emotion’ in the First Film
  166. NYTimes: Cameron and the Cast of ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Hold Their Breath
  167. TheDirect: Avatar 2 Director Shut Down Sigourney Weaver's ‘Insecure’ Behavior on Set
  168. Insider: Lang reveals which scene he convinced Cameron to put into 'TWOW' and says he blacked out once while filming 'Avatar'
  169. Chris Ables' Art
  170. SwellType: Yep, I created the new AVATAR font
  171. NYPost: ‘Avatar 2’ called out for ‘cultural appropriation’ and ‘white savior complex’

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